FLIR One Converts Smart Phones Into Thermal Imaging Devices

Technology can make our lives easier and safer. Of all the things you stash in your go bag or bug-out kit the FLIR One thermal imaging device can help you detect potential issues in camp and keep you aware when others are using darkness as cover. You can have the advantage in darkness.


The FLIR One is a thermal imaging device that attaches to any iPhone, Android smart phone, or tablet. It is handy to have a round the house to detect overloaded circuit breakers, inefficient insulation, the amount of propane remaining in your grill’s gas tank, and to detect that skunk that’s been making its home in your backyard. Those are just a few uses—it can also detect bad actors hiding in the shadows, in the landscaping around your home, or someone waiting for you in a pitch-black room. It is as much a practical tool to have around the home, as it is a self-defense and prepper’s tool.

Using a Lepton camera and MSX technology, the FLIR One can capture still images and video of people and objects in a range of temperatures from -4 degrees to 248 degree F. MSX technology takes a thermal image and a visible image, extracts the detail from the visible image and combines the extracted image with the thermal image to provide a look at what it is you are really seeing. Is that really the neighbor’s dog in your backyard or is it a spring bear raiding your bird feeder? Or your cobbled together generator and breaker is about about to melt down and leave you in the dark and allow your frozen food to spoil.

Maybe the situation is more sinister. Is that a person in your backyard crouching behind bushes perhaps stalking you and your family, waiting and watching for a moment to penetrate your home and do harm. The FLIR one helps keep you safe and aware by taking images in milliseconds with no waiting similar to the speed of the camera built into your phone. Watch it in real time as you scan your house, yard or neighborhood for intruders.

The FLIR One unit is about one-inch high and two inches wide and as thick as your smart phone. The battery needs to be charged prior to use. It then plugs into the USB port of a smartphone and uses the phone’s camera to take still images and video. You also need to download the free FLIR One app so your phone and the FLIR One device can pair up and take and send images.

FLIR thermal image of whitetail deer
Those four white images are whitetail deer about 75 yards away.

I have a five-year-old Motorola Droid with the USB port on the side. Most phones now have the USB port located at the bottom. Newer phones will have better picture quality especially at distance. The real value is identifying the heat signature of people and animals.

The FLIR One can be used at any time of the day or night since temperature variances occur constantly. The FLIR One also provides color palettes—B/W, wheel, rainbow, contrast, arctic, hot/cold, and iron—so a user can adjust the image. It also features panorama, time-lapse, and close-up functions.

Law enforcement uses thermal imaging devices for surveillance activities, fugitive searches, search and rescue, locating evidence, and more. First and foremost, thermal image devices help protect officers when arriving at a scene. An officer can use a device to scan a location from a safe distance to identify people or pets, helping an officer from being ambushed by a person or attacked by a dog. The FLIR One is a compact device that does not require a Defense Department budget. It retails for about $250. According to FLIR many officers want a handy, compact device and that is what the FLIR One is handy and compact.

How would you use a FLIR One device—home defense, hunting, something else? Share your tips or experiences in the comment section.

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Comments (14)

  1. I purchased the model that fastens to the iPhone 5. With an extension cord it will work with any Apple device with a 8 pin connector.
    It works very well around the house and at night outside.
    Mine has a temperature display that lets you point it at a distance or close item and give you the temp.
    Great for AC outlets in the ceiling and checking for heating or cooling leaks.
    Outside at night I could easily see a deer at over 150 feet and a fox at 75 or so feet.
    I bought it to look for hot power line transformers and faulty connections that produce heat.
    Great device.

  2. Not a bad little gadget, and it does have its uses, but if you are thinking that it is going to give you “the advantage in darkness”, you are forgetting that while your smartphone screen may allow you to see IR images of what may or may not be threats, that same screen is also lighting up your face like a spotlight, so if there is a predator lurking in the dark, you’ll be a lot more visible to them than they will be to you.

    1. I wonder how hard it would be to rig up some sort of helmet or facemask so no light would get out to illuminate you? would be nice in a very dark / pitch black house if you were looking for someone that doesnt belong in there. think Samsung VR headset so it would be hands free.

  3. Overpriced! Quality of pictures shown were poor. How good can it work if
    attaches to your smartphone-really.

    1. I have seen this and several others in action. They are not military grade, but then again, they are not $15k – $25K each either. For the price, these are outstanding unit on a smartphone which is nothing more than the display.~Dave Dolbee

  4. Finally a Flir device that is affordable. I have a severe Bear problem around my house. My wife doesn’t get home until after dark when the bears are at their busiest in my yard. When my wife pulls in to our driveway she calls me on the phone to ask me to stand on the porch and watch out for the bears. With this i would be able to see the ones skoaking around in the tree line and warn my wife of which way they are and which way to walk from the vehicle to the house. With this both she and I would feel much safer. And best yet is the price.

  5. Very interesting product. Thanks for the write up!

    Might have to invest in one – looks like it could definitely come in handy, especially on acreage.

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